BROOKSVILLE — George Crews sat on a tricycle in the bitter cold Tuesday evening and watched nearly five decades of family history reduced to smoldering rubble.
"I just hope I got fire insurance," said Crews, 79.
"You don't, Daddy," his daughter, Debbie Durrance, said. "We just called to check."
"That's bad," Crews said.
A fire destroyed the one-story, wood-frame house on VFW Road that Crews and his family had called home for 49 years. Crews shared the house, which family members estimated between 70 and 100 years old, with sons Randy and James and family friend Vi Coogler.
George Crews, James Crews and Coogler were home when Randy arrived from work about 4 p.m., smelled smoke and heard a popping sound in the attic. He opened the attic door, and the gust of air produced a ball of fire.
All four men were able get out of the home safely. Hernando County Fire Rescue and Brooksville Fire Rescue responded and had the fire under control in about 15 minutes and extinguished by 6:30 p.m.
The fire started in or near the air handler due to an electrical malfunction, the fire marshal has concluded.
The house is paid for, and the family has another house in Brooksville where the men can stay. But Crews mourned the loss of family photos, his late wife's antiques and other keepsakes.
"It's just a lot of memories," Crews said.
Tony Marrero can be reached at (352) 848-1431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.